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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Somalia- Six killed in attack on Puntland hotel on election day

Author: DPA
Six people were killed Wednesday when suspected al-Shabaab militants stormed a hotel in the northern Somali port city of Bosaso, just as the Horn of Africa country's parliament was preparing to elect its next president, regional officials said.

The death toll comprises four hotel guards and two of the militants, who were repelled by security forces.

At least seven militants armed with AK47 assault rifles were believed to have been involved in the attack. Some of them escaped before security forces were able to capture them, said a regional official who did not want to be named.

The International Village Hotel is popular among officials and foreign nationals, but none of these were reported to have been killed.

No group immediately claimed the attack, but it was deemed typical of the radical Islamist group al-Shabaab, which has pledged to disrupt Somali elections.

The parliamentary elections late last year did not give every eligible citizen a vote, partly because of the security threat posed by al-Shabaab. The 275 members of the lower house were chosen by electoral colleges, and 54 upper house members by state assemblies.

Parliament was due to elect a president Wednesday afternoon in the capital Mogadishu, where soldiers were patrolling and bus traffic was cancelled.

Incumbent President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud will face 21 challengers including his Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, former premier Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo and former president Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, a moderate Islamist.

Analysts said none of the candidates was likely to get the two-thirds of the vote needed to win in the first round, making a second and even third round necessary.

The presidential election is seen as important step for Somalia, which fell into chaos following the collapse of the dictatorship of Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991, and which is now gradually consolidating its fledgling democracy.

The new president and parliament will face the challenges of diversifying an economy still largely dependent on livestock and money transfers from Somalis living abroad, and – above all - defeating al-Shabaab.

The attack in Bosaso was unusual because the group rarely targets northern Somalia. It operates mainly in the south and centre, where it is waging a military campaign against Somali and African Union troops.
Last update: Wed, 08/02/2017 - Author: DPA